Content of the article: "B35’s Modder Interviews- A Written Interview with Martimius of Serana Dialogue Add-On"
Hello everybody, this is B35Patriot, and I hope you are all doing alright! You all may remember me from my series of follower reviews that I did some months back. Well, I'm back, and this time I'm starting a series of written interviews I'm doing with various modders across the community, both new and old. First up, we have Martimius of Serana Dialogue Add-On, a more recent mod that promises to breath more life (metaphorically, she's a vampire) into Serana via remixed old dialogue and new dialogue featuring a new VA, Kerstyn Unger. The mod recently even had in it's 1.8 update a new romance quest for Serana, giving players finally the option to romance and marry (though in a different way) Serana in an organic way.
Anyway, let's get into the interview!
Q: When did you first get into the Elder Scrolls?
I first got into Elder Scrolls with the release of Skyrim in 2011, first on the PS3. I've since gotten the same game twice more (on PC, then the Special Edition re-release for free). I also own Elder Scrolls Legends, ESO, Morrowind, and Oblivion; each very good games in their own right.
Q: What got you first interested in modding?
Mainly just tinkering around with some stuff in the Creation Kit and TES5/SSEEdit, also modifying existing mods for my personal taste; changing armor values to be more balanced, tweaking textures of an armor to fit the RP of a particular character, and adding voiced dialogue.
Q: What modding work did you do before Serana Dialogue Add-On?
Besides personal stuff for myself, I'd mainly done SSE ports for aviform's mods, as well as that of NPC Visual Transfer. The latter mod was kind of different compared to the previous porting work I did, as it was entirely an xEdit script and required a bit more programming knowledge to tweak and port for Special Edition. Though I am not the best at Pascal Syntax (which is what xEdit scripts are written in) and the port is not the most polished at the moment and could be improved a bit more.
Q: Where did you come up for the idea for Serana Dialogue Add-On?
It mainly come out of inspiration from an existing Serana dialogue mod that's been out for a while, Serana Dialogue Edit. That, and also just a desire for me to improve on a character that had so much potential in the base-game but fell flat, especially for any content after the Dawnguard DLC. After Dawnguard, she doesn’t really have much to say about the other happenings in the world of Skyrim, and her existing dialogue pool gets repetitive and annoying. What was once this living character throughout Dawnguard is now just a bland NPC—a shadow of her former self.
Q: What was the biggest breakthrough and the biggest challenge in putting together Serana Dialogue Add-On?
The dialogue. Even before I had the new VA (Kerstyn Unger) help me out, I had to find a way to incorporate more dialogue to Serana's character in a believable sense. I had three main criterias: 1. Would this be something that she'd actually say? 2. Does this specific voice line/conversation sound and flow organically? 3. Is what she's saying fitting the specific context?
After about several months since the mods release, I found myself backed to a wall. While up to that point, just by using spliced/reused lines from Laura Bailey I'd been able to expound upon Serana's character considerably and make her feel more immersive, I realized that I was already repeating some dialogue lines, and some of the splices sounded a bit off and out of context.
The Amorous Adventures mod pushed through with this ten-fold, and while I applaud FoxFinger's ambition, the end result was a very out of character Serana whose lines sometimes felt like something out of GamerPoop.
Q: A lot of players note that the Serana Dialogue Add-On uses an additional VA to add more dialogue to Serana. How did you come up with the idea for this and how did you come into contact with Kerstyn Unger (The new VA for Serana)?
What I said above. Without the flexibility and capabilities of having a new voice actress, you’re bound to have a more robotic Serana, who’s responses and tone might not necessarily fit the context of a particular conversation. There's also only so much that one can do to expound upon Serana's character only using existing lines. After all (in vanilla) Laura Bailey doesn't have much recorded that doesn't particularly relate to the Dawnguard DLC.
As for how I came into contact with Kerstyn, I asked around various ES voice-actor Discords for help with the SDA mod, and she reached out to me! I really liked her performance and Laura Bailey impression; then the rest is history.
Q: In the end what's your ultimate goal for Serana Dialogue Add-On (i.e. when would you consider it "complete")?
At this point, I really don't know. The 1.0 version wasn't even necessarily a completely finished version, at least for the mod's scope. There's always more that can be added to this character, and I feel with Kerstyn's help, Serana might be up there with custom followers like Lucien and Inigo.
Q: Many players have expressed interest in what features the mod could possibly contain in the future; such as quest commentary and follower (both vanilla and modded) interaction, and support for various other mods. What are your thoughts on that, and what plans do you have for further features in the mod down the line (even if it's in the far future)?
At the time of this interview, I'm currently working on the 1.9 version, which adds new role-play conversations and new romance content, among other bugfixes and improvements. For the 2.0 release and subsequent versions after that, I'd be doing more quest awareness dialogue (More Main Quest content, side-quests, Daedric quests) as well as new romance content, since it seems people really like that. Also I'd like to expound upon the current Serana marriage feature (custom home support, Hearthfires interactions, other perks).
Down the line I'd like to possibly support other mods, like Vigilant, Legacy of the Dragonborn, and BS: Bruma.
Q: Suppose I wanted to create a follower mod or expand an existing one like you did with Serana, what would be your biggest piece of advice?
Just go and break some eggs, really. Learn, experiment, see what works and what doesn't. People can plan all they want, but they'll never really know if what they're planning is actually possible unless they actually try it.
Q: Does modding ever get exhausting from all the steps of work involved?
Yes, definitely. The main thing that keeps me going though is just my enthusiasm for this craft.
Q: Now for some more general questions to wrap up. What's your favorite game outside of Skyrim?
Dungeons and Dragons.
Q: Pick one Elder Scrolls Game (even Legends) outside of Skyrim. Which is it?
Legends, actually. I know it isn't everyone's thing, but I really do love how it illustrates many sections of the Elder Scrolls lore by giving many characters, as well as events card art. I'm a bit of an Elder Scrolls lore junkie, so this was a big thing for me.
Q: What is your favorite Skyrim mod, besides yours?
Enai Siaion's Ordinator, because I like anything that adds to role-play possibilities.
Q: Thank you for doing this interview! Is there anything else you'd like to mention or talk about?
I'd just like to thank the community for all the support and enthusiasm that's been given to the Serana Dialogue Add-On mod. When I first published it, I never would have expected it to be so popular and impactful in the community, from hitting Hot Files and Mod of the Month (on both SE and LE), being featured in YouTube showcases, as well as being written about in Forbes.
That's all for the interview today, and I'd like to sincerely thank Martimius for coming on. I'll be doing more of these in the future with other modders, and if you are a mod author who wants to be in on one, just PM me through Reddit or the Nexus under "B35Patriot". That's all for today, I look forward to seeing you all in the next one!
Martimius's modding page: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/users/25150304?tab=user+files
Serana Dialogue Add-On SE: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrimspecialedition/mods/32161?tab=posts&BH=1
- Serana Dialogue Add-On Romance Update + LE Port!
- B35’s Modder Interviews- A Written Interview with Kris Takahashi of Interesting NPCs
- Mod Arrangement Help
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